|Brett Schofield, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Hometown: I was born in Provo, Utah, went to college in Portland, Ore., and did my Ph.D. in Berkeley, Calif.
Year you joined the INBRE program: I started mentoring INBRE Scholars in 2017, and eventually took over as the INBRE campus representative and steering committee member in 2018. Finally, I became a DRPP investigator in 2020.
Research focus? I use fluorescence microscopy to study the physical factors that influence gene regulation such as the organization and compaction of DNA.
Goal of your research? To understand how the organization of DNA impacts gene regulation.
Your research will make a difference because? Gene regulation is a fundamental requirement of life. It allows a cell to respond to its environment, to communicate, and to exhibit specialized functions. Misregulation of genes can have dramatic consequences including transforming a normal cell into a cancer cell. Understanding cancer requires us to understand how gene regulation normally works and how these processes fail.
Why is it important to mentor undergraduate students? Since Doane University does not have graduate students, the research in my lab is entirely driven by undergraduates who I closely mentor. I consider research to be an integral part of a scientific education because it teaches critical thinking skills by demonstrating how science is actually conducted. Classroom science presents us with a solved world where everything is already known. Research reminds us that this worldview is illusory and that there is far more to learn than is already known.
Three things people may not know about you. What my students find most surprising about me is that I am a published designer of board games and that I mentor new game designers online. In many ways, game design has become my main creative outlet. Anyone interested in how board games get published should feel free to reach out to me!